Shed Seven Biography

This much maligned indie rock band from York, England was formed in 1990 by Rick Witter (11 November 1972, Stockport, England; vocals), Tom Gladwin (b. Thomas Gladwin; bass), Joe Johnson (guitar), and Alan Leach (drums). Paul Banks (b. 6 July 1973, York, England; guitar) replaced Johnson in 1993. Together they brought a flash of domesticity and anti-glamour to the independent scene of the mid-90s - their interests including slot machines, bad television (chief songwriter Banks allegedly wrote songs while watching Prisoner Cell Block H) and cheap alcohol. There was a refreshingly parochial atmosphere to their profile - best symbolized by the fact that Leach was the boyfriend of Witter’s sister - despite the fact that their primary influences included Happy Mondays and Stone Roses. The only hint of celebrity, aside from Witter once coming second in a karaoke competition in Cyprus, involved their vocalist’s dalliance with Donna Matthews from Elastica. However, as their recorded output demonstrated, and many critics suggested, it remained a thin line between level-headedness and mundanity. To their credit, Shed Seven were unconcerned with the trappings of cool, happily signing to a major, Polydor Records, and making their debut with ‘Mark’/‘Casino Girl’: ‘We chose to put Polydor on the middle of our records - like the Who and the Jam, two of the best British bands ever. That’s what we aspire to, not to some crap indie credibility’.

After playing the New Musical Express’ On Into 94 gig, Shed Seven made two appearances on BBC Television’s Top Of The Pops, and achieved two Top 30 singles and a Top 20 album. The band was clearly at their best live, however, and their 1994 sell-out tours cemented a strong following. The band’s second album, including their Top 20 UK hits ‘Getting Better’ and ‘Going For Gold’, was released in April 1996 to mixed reviews. They returned to the post-Britpop music scene in March 1998 with the defiantly brash single ‘She Left Me On A Friday’ and Let It Ride, another slice of retro indie pop. The 1999 compilation set Going For Gold marked the end of their association with Polydor.

Banks left the band the following January, and was replaced by original guitarist Joe Johnson, with touring keyboardist Fraser Smith added to the line-up. The band’s new album, Truth Be Told on the Artful label, contained some sparkling moments of middle-eight joy, notably ‘If The Music Don’t Move Yer’. They switched label once more to Taste Media and released the single ‘Why Can’t I Be You?’ in May 2003, but a completed album was rejected by the label and the band split-up at the end of the year. Witter formed the Dukes and Gladwin joined the pop/dance band the Clients. The original line-up of Shed Seven plus Gladwin reunited for a UK tour in 2007.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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